As difficult as it was to watch the Watchdog findings I have to say I wasn’t overly surprised. Last year I travelled the country every weekend searching for a new horse and I can honestly say it was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. I went to a number of dealers and private sellers and the dishonesty I found amongst sellers nearly left me with no faith in the human race!!! Horses were not as described, sellers were blatantly rude and in one case when I turned up the horse (and owner) didn’t even exist!!! It got to the stage that when I went to visit a horse, even if the equine wasn’t suitable, I was happy just to have a conversation with an honest horsewoman who genuinely cared about the welfare of her equine friend.However amongst all this doom and gloom I can assure you there are genuine, lovely sellers out there - so if you are horse hunting I urge you to stay determined and keep searching. It may take some time and you might see a few wrong ones on the way (sounds more like my dating history!) but the right one is out there for you somewhere. In the end I purchased my horse from a fantastic dealer who I would highly recommend (feel free to contact me if you are searching and I will happily pass their details on).
Some of the issues that were raised through the Watchdog programme could have been avoided through some simple steps which I would urge you to follow:
· Make a list of priorities / things you want from your new steed and questions to ask the seller before viewing the horse.
· Speak to the seller prior to visiting the horse and note down all details given. Ask for videos/ photos before visiting. Ask the same questions when you view the horse in person and check the answers are the same as on the phone.
· Make sure the horse is ridden by the owner/ a rider before you try it. If it is not the owner riding ask them why this is the case. Ask to see the horse doing any activities you plan to do with it- lunged/ jump/ hack/ school etc. Make sure you view the horse in the stable or field, and being tacked up and led in hand so you can see how it is to handle.
· The horse must have a passport and be sure you see it before you agree to purchase.
· Take an experienced horse person with you for an honest second opinion- it is easy to get carried away when you fall in love with a pretty face.
· Visit the horse at least twice.
· Always get a horse vetted.
· Make sure you get a written receipt and keep any advertising/ written info about the horse in case of any problems.I am sure there are many other top tips that help with buying horses so if you have any please comment below. Plus I will say when you get your horse home be kind to your new friend and allow him to settle into his new environment. Don’t be worried if your horse seems a little unsettled initially- this is totally normal when they face such a big change. Some people say to ride the horse straight away, others will leave a horse in its field/ stable for a week to get used to the new surroundings. Personally I wouldn’t advise strongly either way, just do whatever works best for you and your new horse and whatever you feel is the right way forward.
To all you horse hunters out there I am sending you a little bit of luck to find your new equine friend and to all those lovely genuine sellers, I thank you for your honesty and care xx